Volunteer Stories

Transitions

Birth or death? There was a birth certainly we had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different. T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi When I was in my childbearing years and having my own babies I became fascinated by the strength, both physically and emotionally, that mothers inherently possess. During my work as a doula (birth assistant) I became aware that some of my fascination was in part due to the miracle of birth, the transition from spirit, or non-existent person, to a person who is now on the path of mortality. Perhaps I was drawn to be a hospice volunteer due to a similar fascination. The journey that a person goes through from an existing individual to spirit or non-existence. Birth and death tie mankind to the unknown. I have had the opportunity to support women and families in their choices during labour and to be included in their celebration of birth. For that I am extremely grateful. I hope that I can be of some comfort to those...

Langley Hospice Residence: One Volunteer’s Experience

Upon the table a small light was on and gently flickering as I entered the building. I approached the table to read the writing upon the card in front of the light. As I came closer I could see a young woman standing in the hall, her body pressed against the rail. She was trembling, her hands pressed to her mouth, with tears falling upon her cheeks. I moved towards her, my purse still over my shoulder, and extended my arms to her. We both took a step towards each other and my arms encircled her. No words were spoken as she put her head upon my shoulder and I held her close. Time passed, her tears subsided and she stood back. She was composed as she spoke only two words, “thank you”. So what building is this? What do the light and the card represent? Why was this young woman crying? I have entered a Hospice Residence. In direct line with the outside door is a table where the small light is encased within a stained glass stand. This light is turned on for twenty-four hours to honour...

Hospice Volunteer Experiences

One evening I sat with a man who appeared to be sleeping. I stayed for a few minutes, quietly watching, before moving on to visit others. When I returned later, he was awake. I told him that I had come in earlier. He said, "I knew you were there". It made me realize that my presence was important to the people in care, even if not always acknowledged. One time, I sat with a woman while her visiting daughter shared memories of her mother. The stories revolved around the everyday actions of a mother. The mundane deeds and loving functions that showed how much her mother cared for her family. It was the little things that mattered most, in the end, and the daughter wanted me, and her mother, to know how much they meant to her. On another shift, I met a woman who had just arrived from England to be with her father. Once here, she was reluctant to leave the hospice, even for a short time, to get settled into her accommodation. Finally, she asked me if I would stay with her father while...

So Why Am I Here?

Recently, when another volunteer discovered that I live a 30 - minute drive away from the Langley Hospice store, she commented to me that “there must be something closer to your home that you could volunteer at instead of the Hospice”. So, why am I here? Three years ago, my sister-in-law’s Mom, Isabel, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After several weeks of home care in my brother and sister-in-law’s home, Isabel was moved to the hospice care facility in Chilliwack. When I went to visit her, I was so impressed, the facility was beautiful! It looked like Barb and Gerri had put their own personal decorating touch on each room. The great room with its kitchen/dining and sitting area was amazing! How could a person feel so comfortable in a place where so many had come to spend their last days on earth. The care givers were unbelievable. I don’t know how they do it, day after day. Patient after patient. And, now, when I hear Pat (from our linen area) comment on a happening from her...

A Poem about the Hospice Thrift Store

YOU should come and visit us in our Hospice Store It might be secondhand to you but you'll find so much more Nice clothes, dishes, pots and pans, Toys for boys and girls Hats, gloves and jewellery MAYBE even pearls Listen to the volunteers, all friends, working and having fun There are so many things to do - the work is never done So bring a friend and spend some time strolling through our store, And you will find it is really so, so MUCH MORE… Gerry Jarvis Thrift Store Volunteer

Helping One Another

While doing my volunteer work at the hospice residence, I recently spent the better part of my shift visiting with a very discontented patient, whose health seemed to be getting worse day by day. This particular evening was a very lonely one for him – no visitors – and when he asked me to stay and talk, I naturally complied. Our conversation started about his family and as he talked, he began to act worried and distressed. I encouraged him to talk it out and very rapidly the conversation progressed into an intimate sort of emotional confession regarding his grown son. He had disowned this son over thirty-five years ago, and explained to me the circumstances leading up to their conflict. He knew he was going to die soon, and he wanted to see his son one last time, tell him how sorry he was and how much he loved him. He told me, several times, that it was his dying wish to do this. At first, I felt a reluctance to get involved in the “Family Dance”, but I was very emotionally moved by...

Volunteer Viewpoint

When I tell people I am a volunteer at the Langley Hospice Society they always ask: “what do you do there?” When I introduce myself to a new resident and/or their families they always want to know what the volunteers do. There is the explanation that volunteers will help in any way they can – make coffee and tea, do dishes, sit with people, play cards, talk, listen, hold a hand, and give tours or whatever needs to be done. What I would really like to tell people is what volunteers do is give thanks and be grateful. We are thankful that residents and/or family members will let us into their lives. We are grateful that they will turn to us when they need someone to talk to. We are thankful that they allow us to be with them at this crucial time in their lives. We are grateful they make us feel needed and welcome. We are grateful when they are thinking about the end of life and they share their wisdom with us about what is really important in life. We are thankful when we are there for...

The Hospice Experience – From An Office Volunteer

When I retired two years ago this month, I knew I wanted to continue to contribute to my community in some way. Having worked as a Public Health Nurse for 30 years, I had experienced the satisfaction and rewards of working with people to make a difference in their lives. At the same time, I wanted to do something that I didn't have to "carry home with me". Langley Hospice Society office receptionist is the perfect answer. I know I am making a difference each Wednesday afternoon when I answer the phones, type articles, enter data, put together folders for group sessions, fold brochures and even take out the recycling. I enjoy working with the staff who are always friendly and appreciate whatever I do. Learning new skills on the computer and mastering the simple phone system has been fun. I am also surprised each week to learn how rich and deep the Hospice services are and how many families and individuals who are suffering from loss are served. The staff are caring and creative in...

Why Do You Volunteer At The Hospice Residence? A Personal Perspective

When I began volunteering at the Residence about 1½ years ago, I very quickly became aware of how often the question is asked: “Why do you do this type of work?”  Well, the answer is simple, isn't it? Actually no, it is not that simple; at least I believe it is not easy for most. Initially I was a little flummoxed for an appropriate and honest answer to the question. Simply to say something along the lines of “I like to help and talk to people” or to respond in some similar fashion seemed a superficial answer that lacked substance and did not give a comprehensive explanation. I pondered the question, and still do so to some extent, because our lives are an evolving sequences of experiences, observations and events that over time influence and shape and may change our perspectives, thoughts and opinions. As anyone knows who is involved with hospice work of any type, it is one of the greater privileges in life to become a confidante to someone who is experiencing end-of-life or with an...

A Change in Perspective

“What do you want? I don’t want any more people poking at me. Go away!”  The words stung, but I managed to say in a calm, quiet voice, “I’m not a nurse. I’m a volunteer and I just wanted to see if there was anything I could do for you.”  “Yeah! You can *$#!’ well leave me alone!” Respecting the patient’s wishes as I was taught I turned and walked away, but I was shocked by her harsh response and even a little angry. Since beginning my hospice work five years ago, this was one of the few times I’d truly been upset by a patient. Intellectually, I knew her mood was understandable - she was dying of cancer - but emotionally I still found it hard to deal with. All I wanted to do was help. The nurses told me not to concern myself – she was like that with everyone, but I decided to try again later anyway; maybe after lunch she’d be feeling better. Unfortunately, I received the same blast of invective then. I’d experienced anger from patients before. There are always a few who are...

SECOND STORY TREASURES THRIFT STORE

Store hours:

Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Donations of gently used clothing and household items may be dropped off:

Monday, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Tuesday - Friday, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Saturday, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm

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Events